As the saying goes, “
it is never too late to do well
Interviewed in the
Journal du dimanche
, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced that the spacing between the two injections of the Covid-19 vaccine would now go from four to six weeks, or 42 days.
However, a few months earlier, the government had refused to follow this protocol, when such guidelines had already been proposed by the WHO and the Haute Autorité de Santé.
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At the end of January, immunologist Alain Fischer, chairman of the Vaccine Strategy Steering Committee, and virologist Marie-Paule Kieny, head of the Scientific Committee on the Covid-19 vaccine, presented several arguments against a 42-day gap between the two doses: "
lack of efficacy of the first dose, absence of such data in clinical trials, concern about the protection of very old people, risk of forgetting the second appointment ...",
So why has the government changed its mind?
Successful bet for England
At the beginning of January, the World Health Organization and the High Authority of Health had indeed recommended to the French government to widen the interval between the injection of the two doses of vaccines of 6 weeks.
After a debate between favorable and unfavorable authorities, the government had finally chosen the path of caution, believing that a postponement would
only a "
minor impact on the rate of vaccinations
The British example has shown the contrary.
While the United Kingdom was the most bereaved country in Europe, the English Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, made the choice to widen the spacing between the injections, thus going against the recommendations of the large groups which market vaccines against Covid-19.
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Today, with more than 32 million people over 50 having already received a first dose, the UK is high on the global vaccination campaign.
On Saturday, April 10, the number of new cases was estimated at 2,589, and that of deaths, at 40 people.
On March 28, no deaths linked to Covid-19 were noted in London.
A first for almost six months.
Unsurprisingly, England should be able to lift their restrictions on June 21.
Another element may explain the government's flip-flop over the difference between the two doses: studies have recently been published on the subject.
In fact, last January, Olivier Véran had chosen prudence:
"We are faced with a part of the unknown, I am choosing the security of validated data
," he said during a press briefing.
Since then, several studies have been published, including a first assessment by the British Department of Health (Public Health England) on March 1, which was very encouraging.
It demonstrates that Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are 80% effective in preventing hospitalizations in people over 80 years old, between three and four weeks after the first dose.
According to Professor Lelièvre,
"the two vaccines seem to correctly prevent Covid-19 infections until the 34th day".
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These data join other scientific work which pleads for a spacing of the injections.
On February 22, the findings of a study carried out in Scotland - the first to be carried out at the level of a country - among 5.4 million people were posted online.
They show a very high efficacy of the vaccines from the first dose, with a peak between the 28th and the 34th day for the Comirnaty of Pfizer and BioNtech.
Try the experiment, but without the elderly
Questioned by the
, Doctor Anne-Claude Crémieux wants all the same cautious: “
Twenty-eight days after the vaccines, whatever they are, the prevention of hospitalizations is about 80%.
The strategy of the English is not to prevent infections, because for that a dose is not enough, but to reduce the number of severe forms
", she explained to the weekly.
The real limits of the spacing between two injections concern the elderly.
87% of failures in the UK have occurred in patients over 80
says the professor
In this population, it seems that the immune response obtained after a dose is insufficient to prevent hospitalization
It is therefore judicious, for her, to try the experiment, but without the elderly.
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